This week, JTA published an interview with Hannah Rosenthal, who has just stepped down as the U.S. State Department’s anti-Semitism monitor. In the three years Rosenthal spent at the State Department, she worked to increase awareness and the reporting of anti-Semitic incidents around the world. Some of her accomplishments include developing a training seminar at the Foreign Service Institute and establishing an official State Department definition of anti-Semitism that incorporates Natan Sharansky’s “3D Test of anti-Semitism.” JTA reported:
Rosenthal describes the definition as a breakthrough.
‘We have now a definition we can train people on, and we’ve been very aggressive in training foreign service officers,’ she said.
The result [of these trainings]: Whereas anti-Semitism received passing mentions in previous reports or was addressed separately, in recent years it has received extensive attention. In the most recent report on Ukraine, for instance, anti-Semitism earned its own chapter heading and 550 words among 15,000.
Jewish community professionals say the definition, training course and attention paid in the reports translate into a stakehold for the community in a department that historically has suffered from a reputation of inattentiveness to anti-Jewish bias…
If Rosenthal’s intradepartmental achievements involved delicate bureaucratic dances, her job overseas was characterized by making clear that anti-Semitism was a U.S. government priority—a job that required a degree of showmanship.
In some instances that meant taking her complaints directly to offenders. In April she met with Ilmar Reepalu, the mayor of Malmo in Sweden, who would not back down from his calls on the city’s Jews to reject Zionism as a strategy for repelling violent attacks on the community. So Rosenthal took her case to the country’s minister of integration, who issued a rare rebuke of a fellow public official.
‘Not only were we able to get people to publicly criticize him, there have been regular kipah walks,’ she said, referring to recent events in which the city’s Jews and others have defiantly donned the head coverings on outings.
In 2011, Rosenthal confronted Saudi officials about anti-Semitism in their schoolbooks and asked Jordanian officials to introduce Holocaust studies into the curriculum.
The actions threw the weight of the U.S. government behind what for years have been efforts by Jewish groups to have governments confront anti-Semitism, [Daniel] Mariaschin [executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International] said.
‘The position has profile,’ Mariaschin said. ‘In particular, B’nai B’rith was pleased when she visited Latin America.’
Mariaschin noted Rosenthal’s attention to Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez has forged ties with Iran, attacked Israel and insinuated the existence of Jewish conspiracies.
Click here to read the full interview.
There are no comments for this entry